Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Suspended in a Moment

My favorite artworks are those that take me someplace else and I was fortunate to see several just like this while I was in Reykjavík. The Reykjavík Arts Festival is an annual city-wide event that includes a variety of works in both contemporary and classical genres and I went to a number of exhibitions and performances between May 22 and June 5.

Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen (translated "The Explosive Sonics of Divinity") is a theater production by Ragnar Kjartansson and Kjartan Sveinsson. The performance features hand painted sets and beautiful music, but there is no story and there are no actors. The hour-long piece includes four different vignettes such as a stormy ocean and snowy woods. I was transported in this time, everything around me slipped away and I was transfixed. The absence of story and characters allowed me to focus on the visuals and sound in new way. I found myself paying very close attention to the details of the sets, the lighting and the interaction between the music and scenery. I did not want this piece to end, and when it was over I did not feel ready to leave.

The opening event of the festival "Turiya" by Högni Egilsson was a 15-minute performance using instruments, voices and the bells of the two largest churches in the city, the Catholic Cathedral and Hallgrímskirkja. The audience gathered around Tjörnin, the city lake, and the music echoed all around as it was performed on a small bridge at the top of the water. I was moved by the music, the sound of Högni's incredible voice, the communication of the bells back and forth and the tremendous sense of happiness and community that permeated the atmosphere.

The closing performance for the festival as a piece by Ragnheiður Harpa called "Flight Trails…'and the world was sung into existence'". For this piece, the artist had two vintage airplanes create a drawing in the sky with trails of smoke as a women's chorus sang underneath. The planes flew over the city and viewers could listen to the music on the radio. Again, I was taken somewhere else. The drawing had a huge visual and physical presence given the size of the drawing tools and the immense canvas, but there was an even bigger feeling to this piece--it had a massive, majestic, otherworldly character that made my surroundings and time disappear. 

See more pictures of the wonderful art I saw in Reykjavík here.

Thanks for reading. 

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